Policy & Politics
Political Science 3480
12:30-1:45 Monday & Wednesday
217 Clark Hall
Instructor: Dave Robertson, 347 SSB
Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 9:00-Noon; I will arrange other times to fit your schedule.
Phone 516-5855; Fax 516-5268, e-mail DaveRobertson@umsl.edu; twitter @robertsonMO
Teaching Assistant: Zach Schwartz
Contents: What Is The Course About? / How To Get A Good Grade / Exams / Books / Participation / The Memo / Detailed Course Schedule /
Environmental Politics Websites / What Skills do Employers want? / How to Make a Fair Minded Argument / Environmental Politics Bibliography
Eight Tips for Studying Smarter and Learning Better!
1. What is the Course About? Our deepest hopes, doubts and conflicts shape our choices about the land, air and water that are essential to our lives. We value our environment for the beauty that ennobles us and the resources that enrich us. Environmental policy reveals what is at stake in society’s decisions about the environment and on the priorities we set. It also tells us about the way that government solves problems, and the strengths and weaknesses of government as an instrument for realizing our ideals.
In 3480, we explore the governance of land, water, air, energy, solid and hazardous waste, endangered species, climate change, and international environmental cooperation. We will build problem solving skills by applying them to these difficult problems. If you understand environmental problem solving in the United States, then, you will have a better understanding of solving other kinds of problems. This course does not require that you have a background in biological or other sciences.
By the end of the course, then, you should have (1) mastered a body of basic information about environment issues and policies, and (2) a better command of the problem-solving skills used to make public policy. To measure your achievement, the course includes extensive class discussion, three examinations, quizzes, and a final paper.
2. Our Contract. By enrolling in this course, you and I have agreed to a contract with each other. I'll work hard to be prepared, enthusiastic, fair and respectful of every student and their standpoint. I'll be accessible and try my best to return graded materials after no more than a week. By enrolling in the class, you've agreed to (1) attend every class, (2) to participate by asking questions and joining in class discussions, and (3) reading the assigned material and completing assignments on time. You are paying for and receiving a University of Missouri class. Of all the consumer purchases you make, don't let your University of Missouri education be the one purchase where you expect less for your money.
Easton, Thomas A. ed. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues, 15th edition. Paperback. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013. ISBN: 0-07-351451-9.
Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People (any edition - available used and in many public libraries)
Rosenbaum, Walter A., Environmental Politics and Policy, 9th ed. Paperback. Los Angeles: Sage/CQ Press, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-1452239965
There are a number of additional readings; many of them are very short newspaper articles. All are available in My Gateway, in Docs and Assignments.
The class schedule below lists all the reading, quiz, exam, and assignment dates. Each date has a title. Click on the title to get an outline of the day's class. Each outline will be available the evening prior to the class.
Participation: 10% of the final grade
Quizzes: 10% of
the final grade
Exam 1: 15% of the final grade
Exam 2: 15% of the final grade
Exam 3: 20% of the final grade
Memo Question, Significance: 5% of the final grade
Memo Synopsis/Outline/Bibliography: 5% of the final grade
Memo: 20% of the final grade
NOTE: You are not are NOT competing with other students for a grade. There is no curve in this course. Each student can get an A, or can get a D. It's up to you.
5. Participation. You must participate in this course actively in order for it to work well. You must prepare for and attend class, and you must contribute thoughtfully to discussion. To ensure fairness in allocating this portion of the grade, sign-up sheets will be circulated during some of the classes. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about environmental policy and public policy. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about the day's readings and lecture.
Your reading assignments are listed on the attached class schedule. You are expected to read the material before coming to class, and you are expected to be prepared to discuss the reading material in class. You may be asked to discuss a question regarding the reading during the class for which the reading is assigned. You are expected and must plan to participate in class for the trial of Dr. Stockmann (September 14) and the Mediterranean exercise (November 30 and December 2).
6. Exams. There will be three exams (September 28 in class, November 2 in class, and December 16 in our classroom at 10:00 am). Each of the exams will consist of three parts: 20 true / false questions worth 2 points each, 2 identification questions worth 10 points each, and an essay worth 40 points. The final exam will include an additional essay question.
7. Environmental Policy Memo. You will write a 14-16 page fair-minded (see below) environmental policy memo for the class. Samples of past memos are available on My Gateway at My Docs and Assignments. The paper requires you to provide information to U.S., Missouri (or other, by arrangement) legislative committee (addressing members of both parties) about an specific environmental policy issue of your choice. The memo is due no later than Monday December 7. You must turn in two assignments in advance. First, you have to submit a 1-2 paragraph written proposal for the memo on Wednesday, September 16. This proposal must include must include a statement of the policy issue or question, and a statement of why the question matters. Second, you have to submit a one-paragraph synopsis of the memo, an outline of the memo and a bibliography at least 6 sources (no Wikipedia or online encyclopedia) by Wednesday, October 21 (see below). The proposal and the outline each are worth 5% of the paper grade.
This assignment aims to encourage you to use the course concepts to analyze the environmental problem and policy response of your choice. The purpose is to apply your knowledge of environmental politics to a topic that interests you. To do that, you should provide information that a policy maker should know about the policy choices involved (you can make up a name, or use a real office, like director of the EPA or Secretary of State, or name the person you are addressing this to – whatever helps you focus on writing the memo). I urge you to start researching your topic with CQ Researcher (available online through the Thomas Jefferson Library). These research reports address questions similar to yours, and provide a good example of how to go about briefing a policy-maker.
There are six kinds of things a policy-maker should know about. I strongly recommend that you use these headings to outline your memo:
1. Why should this issue be on the government agenda? Explain to the policy-maker how many people the issue affects, and how it affects them. The policy-maker needs to know as clearly why she or he should care about this issue. What’s the problem or the danger if something isn’t done?
2. What are the key things to know about past government efforts to deal with this issue? The policy-maker needs to know what has been done about this issue in the past. This asks about policy development: the public institutions and laws that affect the issue now. How have we dealt with this issue in the past? Has past government policy encouraged behaviors we should change, and if so, how did that evolve?
3. What are the key alternative choices for addressing this issue, and what are their consequences? The policy-maker needs to know what different choices government can make. How can government deal with this? What tools are available – command and control? Taxes and subsidies? Cap & Trade? What else. Remember, doing nothing is an alternative – and a choice.
4. Who are the key participants in this issue and how do their standpoints differ? The policy-maker needs to know the standpoints of influential groups about this issue and especially how they feel about the alternative choices. Are there difference in public opinion? Do people in different regions have different standpoints on the issue? What businesses have strong standpoints: oil? coal? The electrical utilities? The auto industry? How about the environmental groups? Trade unions? How about state and local officials and members of the US Congress from different states (Midwestern states are different from states on the West Coast). How powerful are these interests? How will they react to different alternatives?
5. Describe the political costs and benefits of different alternatives. The policy-maker needs to know exactly how the answers to 3 & 4 are connected by reasoning through the consequences of a solution. For example, higher taxes could increase opposition from those who are taxes, and make it harder for the solution to succeed (and it might cost the policymaker her job). If one group gets benefits, it will be more likely to help the solution succeed (and might help the policymaker, too).
6. What is the best alternative course of action in the future? Based on your answer to questions 3, 4, and 5, explain to the policy maker why one choice is better than others. Explain not only in environmental and economic terms, but in political terms as well.
The memo is 14-16 pages. Grading criteria include: (1) the degree to which you put effort into the paper; (2) the degree to which you use specific facts and figures in your analysis; (3) how fair-minded your argument is; (4) the quality of the writing and organization of the paper; (5) the quality and diversity of the sources; (6) the persuasiveness of the your argument for the proposed improvement in the situation. An "A" paper will be clear, concise, and specific. It will cite at least 8 sources (of which 1 should be from class readings, 2 from outside research articles, and 2 from outside books).
In the Synopsis/Outline/Bibliography due October 21, I want to know that you have been working on the memo. The sysnopsis briefly summarizes (1 paragraph) the memo so far. The outline should indicate that you’ve thought about, and read some information about, answering the 6 questions related to the central question in your memo. ou can submit an outline based on these six questions, providing a preliminary answer to most of them under each heading (you can organize this in a different way if you prefer). I’d expect this outline to fill about a half a page or more, single spaced. Also, show that you have read enough to be able to list at least 6 sources (not Wikipedia); they can be books, articles, or websites that provide specific evidence you are likely to use in writing your memo. Give a full citation
LATE MEMOs lose 1 point for every day that ends in the letter "y".
8. Quizzes. There will be six short quizzes in the class: August 31, September 14, October 12, October 19, November 11, and November 30. These quizzes will cover the readings due for that date class and nothing else; the last quiz will cover information you will gather on the nation you are assigned for the Mediterranean exercise.
9. Current Events. Pay closer attention to environmental policy developments this semester. You can do this by reading the St. Louis Post-Dispatch national news section more closely, and by scanning the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal are among the newspapers available daily. The daily St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the New York Times, and USA Today are available free to students at several locations on campus. Grist, the Environmental New Network, and the BBC have very good coverage of environmental issues. See also the Environmental Politics Links on the course website. The Monkey Cage / Environmental Politics site has very good coverage of the political science work on environmental politics. Google news includes articles from many newspapers around the nation and the world. The Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report and the National Journal are weekly publications available in the reference area, and they are outstanding sources for national policy developments.
10. Plagiarism. Plagiarism means taking the written ideas of someone else and presenting them in your writing as if they were your ideas, without giving the author credit. Plagiarism (a word which comes from the Latin word for kidnapping) is deceitful and dishonest. Violations that have occurred frequently in the past include not using quotation marks for direct quotes and not giving citations when using someone else's ideas; using long strings of quotations, even when properly attributed, does not constitute a paper of your own.
Plagiarism in written work for this class is unacceptable. The University's Student Conduct Code classifies plagiarism as a form of academic dishonesty. Depending on the severity of the plagiarism, punishment can include receiving no credit for the assignment, failing the course and referral for university disciplinary action.
10. Other Stuff. When I return your exam, please check to make sure that I have computed your grade correctly. Please ask questions! Please be in your seat by the time class begins. Please do not hold private conversations during class. If you do not understand lecture, if you have further questions about lecture, please don't hesitate to interrupt and ask your question.
► * indicates article is in .pdf form in My Gateway, Docs and Assignments
August 24 (Monday) Introduction: Standpoints
August 26 (Wednesday) Priorities for the Environment: Economic Growth and Prosperity
Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 1-9
* Nash, "A Wilderness Condition" (.pdf in My Gateway, Docs and Assignments)
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 9-29
Taking Sides, Issue 4, pages 65-84
September 2 (Wednesday) How Much is the Environment Worth?
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 165-193
Taking Sides, Issue 2, pages 21-39
* "Is New Orleans Safe?"
September 7 (Monday) Labor Day - Class does not meet
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 129-158
Issue 1, pages 2-21
September 14 (Monday) The Trial of Dr. Stockmann
READ: Ibsen, An Enemy of the People
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 33-62
* "McConnell Urges States to Defy U.S. Plan"
* "Republican Governors Signal Their Intent ..."
MEMO PROPOSAL DUE (1-2 paragraphs)
September 21 (Monday) Science, Public Opinion and Polarization
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 62-74
* Pew, "Public’s Policy Priorities, 2015"
* Downs, "Up and Down with Ecology-the Issue-Attention Cycle"
Last day to drop a course or withdraw from school without receiving a grade.
Last day any student may place a course on Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis
September 23 (Wednesday) The Puzzles of American Government
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 81-123
* "Beyond Gridlock and American Environmental Policy"
September 28 (Monday) EXAM 1 - Study Guide for Exam 1
September 30 (Wednesday) How Does the United States Govern Land?
READ: * "Putting People in the Map: Anthropogenic Biomes of the World"
Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 317-327
October 5 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Land?
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 327-358
October 7 (Wednesday) How Does the United States Govern Energy? Electricity, and Fossil Fuels
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 277-294
Taking Sides, Issue 8, pages 148-164
October 12 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Energy? Fossil Fuels and Nuclear
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 294-302
Taking Sides, Issues 7, 9 pages 133-147, 165-178
October 14 (Wednesday)
How Does the United States Govern Energy?
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 305-311
Taking Sides, Issues 10-11, pages 179-221
October 19 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Nuclear Waste?
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 302-305
Taking Sides, Numbers 12, 19, pages 222-240, 343-356
October 21 (Wednesday) Command and Control: Regulating Air & Water
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 197-203
* "Obama to Unveil Tougher Climate Plan With His Legacy in Mind"
* "Obama and the environment: Clean power or power play?"
* "Hillary Clinton, Scott Walker, and the Future of Obama’s Climate Plan"
MEMO SYNOPSIS/OUTLINE/BIBLIOGRAPHY DUE
October 26 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Air?
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 203-219
October 28 (Wednesday) How Does the United States Govern Water?
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 219-237
November 2 (Monday) EXAM 2 - Study Guide for Exam 2
November 4 (Wednesday) Regulating Toxics and Toxic Waste
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 241-252
Taking Sides, Issue 18, pages 327-342
November 9 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Hazardous & Solid Waste?
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 252-272
Taking Sides, Issue 17, pages 293-326
November 11 (Wednesday) Climate Change: Why So Much Political Controversy?
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 361-377
* St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "STL Region grapples with hotter future"
* St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis's 2050 forecast calls for rain and rising rivers"
* St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis region doing little to prepare for climate change"
Taking Sides, Issue 6, pages 110-131
November 16 (Monday) International Problems
Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 377-392
Last day a student may drop a course. Instructor’s approval is required. A grade of EX or F will be assigned.
Last day a student may withdraw from school. Instructors’ and Dean’s approvals are required. Grades
of EX or F will be assigned for each course.
November 18 (Wednesday) How Does the World Manage International Problems?
READ: * Smith, The Environmental Policy Paradox, 288-299, 304-322
November 23 & 25: Fall Break - Class does not meet
December 2 (Wednesday) The Mediterranean 2
December 7 (Monday) Population, Food, and Biodiversity
READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 282-289
Taking Sides, Issue 13, pages 241-256
MEMO DUE (-1 point for each day late)
December 9 (Wednesday) The Future
READ: Taking Sides, Issue 3, pages 40-63
* "What Does Today Owe Tomorrow?"
December 16 (Wednesday) FINAL EXAM, 10:00-12:00 - Study Guide for Final Exam
When you complete the course, you should be more skilled in your ability to:
1. Understand and respect your own standpoints and standpoints that differ from yours.
2. Distinguish Fact and Opinion.
A fact is a statement that can be proven to be true. An opinion is a statement of a person's feelings about something. When you read or listen in this course, actively distinguish fact and opinion by asking:
- What is the objective evidence that supports someone's assertion?
- How does the person differentiate between facts and her or his interpretation
3. Determine Cause and Effect.
Does the person assert that one fact follows as the result of another? (Examples include such statements as "Increased auto exhaust causes global warming," or "Government regulations cause unemployment"). How sweeping are these assertions? What is the evidence for it? How persuasive is this evidence?
4. Determine the accuracy and completeness of the information provided. When you read more than one point of view on an issue, you should think about the following:
- What facts and cause-effect relationships does everyone agree about?
- What facts and cause-effect relationships do authors or speakers disagree about?
- What important facts do some persons raise, while others ignore?
- What sources could be used to determine the accuracy of the information you hear?
6. Recognize Bias, Rhetoric, and Manipulation.
What do you think the person wants readers or listeners to think or do? How does the person use words or phrases to accomplish this? Does the author or speaker paint word pictures that are particularly attractive for the things she likes, or that are especially awful for the things that he doesn't like? How do the authors select examples to stir your emotions?
Recognize poor logic and faulty reasoning. When you read more than one point of view on an issue, you should think about the following logical problems.
a. Incorrect cause-effect relationships ("The Clean Air Act of 1990 preceded the recent economic recession, therefore the CAA caused the recession" [Were other factors much more influential in bringing about the economic downturn? Did the Clean Air Act have any substantial independent effect on the economy in recent years?]). Many political arguments rely on “slippery slope” cause-and effect relationships, such as, “if we adopt this policy, we will be on the road to socialism (or anarchy, or ruin, or some other negative result).
b. Inaccurate or distorted use of statistics ("Environmental laws of the 1970s failed to reduce pollution;" think about whether, for example, population and economic growth offset environmental gains from policy). Think about widely different assumptions and projections of the future; for example, environmentalists may project that the protection of the Northern spotted owl may cause little net loss of jobs in the Pacific Northwest because they assume that such restrictions will benefit fishing, tourism, and other industries; the logging companies and unions may project the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
c. Faulty analogies or comparisons ("Congress can't balance the federal budget, so how can it clean up the environment?" or "Auto companies have lied about safety, so how can they be trusted on emissions controls?" Such assertions tend to be matters of opinion rather than demonstrable facts).
d. Oversimplifications that ignore important information ("Tougher environmental laws can create jobs in the long run, so the economy will be better off if stricter laws are enacted;" such a statement ignores the number of persons who may be displaced in the short run with a given environmental law). Often, opponents of a standpoint oversimplify it (setting up a “straw man”) and attack the hollow argument
e. Stereotyping ("all environmentalists are kooks; all conservatives are greedy crooks"). Modifiers such as "all," "never," or "always" often provide a tip off stereotyping.
f. Cherry-picking evidence (if you look at the years 19xx-20xx, global warming was not occurring, so global warming is not occurring).
Environmental New Service (ENS)
The National Library for the Environment / Earth Policy Institute
National Council for Science and the Environment / The Daily Planet
Florida Center for Environmental Studies
The President /
The Federal Judicial System
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Department of the Interior / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
U.S. Department of Energy / U.S. DOE Energy Topics A-Z
State and local government / Council of State Governments Environmental Policy / Interstate Compacts
League of Conservation Voters
/ Missouri Votes
Sierra Club / Sierra Club - Ozark Chapter
/ Natural Resources Defense Council / National Audubon Society / Audubon Society-St. Louis
/ National Wildlife Federation / Izaak Walton League / Environmental Defense Fund
/ World Wildlife Federation
/ Missouri Coalition for the Environment / American Rivers
Wilderness Society /Greenpeace /Resources for the Future
Nature Conservancy / the Trust for Public Land
/ Sustainable St. Louis / Trailnet / Greenway Network
Friends of the Earth / Earth First! / Sea Shepards
U.S. Chamber of Commerce /
National Association of Manufacturers
National Federation of Independent Business
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers /
American Waterways Operators /
American Farm Bureau / National Corn Growers Association /
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Superfund / EPA Oil Spill program /
Missouri DNR Hazardous Waste Program / Superfund, RCRA, and other environmentally sensitive sites in St. Louis
President's Council on Sustainable Development - Final Report
EPA's Community-Based Approaches site
Northwest Environment Watch / National Geographic's Smart Suburb / Sierra Club Sprawl site / Sprawl City
Smart Growth Online
Sustainable St. Louis / Suburban Sprawl in St. Louis / Confluence Greenway
U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation Systems
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program
Defenders of Wildlife / WildAid / Center for Biological Diversity
Last Updated August 19, 2015
Background downloaded from